Boarding situations are covered by the Residential Tenancies Act if:
- the boarding place has facilities for joint use by the tenants and
- it is occupied, or is intended to be occupied, by at least six tenants at once and
- tenancies are intended to last 28 days or more.
Other board situations (e.g. you rent a room in someone’s home; in these situations your rights as a boarder are similar to that of non-tenant flatmates. You can see our information elsewhere about:
For information about what your rights are if you stay in a boarding establishment covered by the Residential Tenancies Act, see our Boarding House Tenancies page.
Read on for information applicable to boarding situations not covered by the Act.
What are my rights if I’m boarding with someone?
If your boarding situation is not covered by the Residential Tenancies Act, then what your rights are will depend on the agreement you negotiate with the landlord.
Since you are not protected by the Act it’s a good idea to have the agreement in writing so that everyone knows where they stand.
If you and the person who you are boarding with have a dispute which can’t be resolved through discussion, you can apply to the Disputes Tribunal. Another option is mediation.
If you want some advice about what is reasonable or about negotiating terms with your landlord, get in touch with your local CAB.
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I’m thinking of taking in boarders. What do I need to consider?
If your boarding situation would fall under the Residential Tenancies Act (i.e. there will be rooms for six or more tenants and the tenancies would be for at least 28 days you will have certain obligations under the Act.
Otherwise, taking in a boarder is similar to having a flatmate. You should look at your family situation and work and social life, and think about what you would need to provide for the boarder. For example, your boarder would probably be sharing your kitchen, bathroom and living room.
- would you want the boarder to be male or female, a student, a child or adult?
- how long would you expect the boarder to stay for?
- are you taking on a boarder for financial help or company?
- will you provide meals? Which meals?
- will you offer room-cleaning and bed-making? Washing and ironing?
- will the rent include telephone, power and food, or do you expect the boarder to pay for these separately?
- will you feel secure having a stranger around, and would you need to secure your valuables?
It’s a good idea to have a written agreement which you and the boarder can sign (this is mandatory for boarding house tenancies). That way both parties know where they stand and it provides something to fall back on in the event of a dispute.
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What should be in our boarding agreement?
A boarding agreement should cover a range of scenarios, and should set out the terms of agreement between the two parties.
A boarding agreement should cover:
- how much the board per week is
- what is covered in the board e.g. phone, power etc.
- when it is to be paid and how, e.g. “board of $110 is to be paid every Tuesday by automatic payment to bank account…”
- when the board will be reviewed and how much notice will be given for board increases
- the payment of a bond or security
- the notice period to end the agreement, e.g. “either party can end this agreement by giving two weeks’ notice in writing”
- arrangements for friends and family to visit, including overnight stays.
- when the landlord may enter the boarder’s room
- house rules e.g. regarding smoking and pets, whether the boarder is expected to help with chores
We don't have a sample private board agreement, but the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has a sample tenancy agreement and a sample flat-sharing agreement which you can use as the basis for your boarding agreement.
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My boarder is going away for a month. Can I charge him board during this time?
If this situation is not already covered by the agreement you made with your boarder when he first moved in, then you’ll need to negotiate this with him before he goes.
If he does not want anyone else to use his room while he is away then it might be reasonable for him to pay a nominal rent for this period of time. If his board normally includes meals and use of the utilities (e.g. electricity, phone), then it would be reasonable for you to charge him a lower rate while he is away.
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How much notice do I have to give if I want to leave my boarding situation?
If your tenancy is covered by the Residential Tenancy Act then you have to give 48 hours’ notice.
If your tenancy is not covered by the Residential Tenancy Act then it depends on the boarding agreement you have with the landlord. Your agreement should state your terms of giving notice.
If you don’t have a written agreement, then you are bound by any verbal agreement you've made and must give reasonable notice (e.g. between one and three weeks).
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I don’t have a written agreement with my boarder. How do I make them leave?
Although a notice period wasn’t agreed to, you still need to give a reasonable period of notice for your boarder to leave. The time frame depends on the circumstances, and could be anything from one to three weeks or more. It’s always best to have a signed, written agreement which covers this kind of situation to prevent any disputes about it.
If your boarder refuses to leave, you might have to consider serving them with a trespass notice.